Last Wednesday, UTM’s Muslim Students’ Association collaborated with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation to organize a breast cancer campaign, while also trying to dispel misconceptions about Islamic women.
The campaign, which fell at the end of October—which is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month—was part of an overall effort to empower women, according to Sama Ayyoub, MSA’s VP external.
“People have misconceptions that Islam doesn’t respect women,” Ayyoub commented. She felt the breast cancer campaign was a good opportunity to address both issues at once.
Part of the effort included the association’s annual Pink Hijab Day, during which Muslim women demonstrated their support for breast cancer awareness by wearing a pink headscarf.
Men were invited to participate as well, with volunteers offering to let students try on a pink scarf at their table outside the Student Centre.
“It’s nice to see [that] people are really open about [the hijab],” commented Sumaiyah Kamaludeen, a volunteer. According to Kamaludeen, at least 100 people visited the table that day, some of whom tried on a hijab and commented that tying it wasn’t as easy as it looked.
“[Hijab-wearing women] have to do it every day,” Ayyoub said.
Other items featured at the table included a spin wheel with breast cancer trivia, information pamphlets, and sale items such as hijabs, hijab accessories, and biryani. There was also a tray of chocolates, each wrapped in a small strip of paper tied with pink ribbon. The pieces of paper contained quotes of Islamic teachings relating to women.
“[Your wives] are your garments and you are a garment for them,” read one strip, citing a verse of the Qur’an.
Ayyoub mentioned the shocked reactions of some men who learned for the first time that breast cancer can affect men. According to the CBCF official website, an estimated 200 men in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, while 23,800 women are expected to be diagnosed.
Silvio Chu, who was passing by when he noticed the table, mentioned that he supports breast cancer awareness because his mother and sister were both diagnosed with the disease, though fortunately they were both “false alarms”.
Through their campaign, the MSA raised $173, which will be donated to CBCF.